October 1, 2010

Google Fixes the Untitled Document Problem

In my Dreamweaver classes I have students Google “Untitled Document”. The results are astounding. Currently Google lists 82,600,000 pages that match that search.

“Untitled Document” is the unfortunate (though accurate) text Dreamweaver uses for a new web page’s <title> tag. Unfortunately it’s easy to forget to change the title to something that accurately describes the page’s content–people have obviously missed this step at least 82 million times!

What’s worse is that Google usually uses a web  page’s title as the name of the link in its search results–so if you created a page about “Bolivian Apples” but left the title as “Untitled Document,” when someone searched for Bolivian Apples, Google would display  a big blue “Untitled Document” link to your page. At least that’s how it worked until recently. Someone at Google apparently got fed up with this “Untitled Document” problem and came up with a solution. Somehow they’ve figured out a way to derive a more descriptive title to replace Dreamweaver’s default title text. Go ahead, try a Google search on “Untitled Document” and you’ll see that Jeff Koons’ home page — a page with the “Untitled Document” title — is merely listed as Jeff Koons. Thank you Google!

However, even though the untitled pages you create in Dreamweaver will not look weird in search result pages, that page’s search engine ranking will be negatively effected. Search engines use the title tag as an important indicator of that page’s content. A well crafted title — descriptive and accurate keyword phrases — will go a long way in helping your page rise to the top of searches.

P.S. Dreamweaver has a tool to help out with this problem. When you finish your site (or add a bunch of pages to your site), you can check to see if you’ve forgotten to title any of your pages:

  1. Choose Site -> Reports.
  2. In the Reports window, select “Entire Current Local Site” from the “Report on” menu.
  3. Check the “Untitled Documents” box.
  4. Click the Run button. Dreamweaver will then check your site for any page’s with the “Untitled Document” problem, and display the results in the Results pane at the bottom of the screen.
  5. Double click each page listed in the Results pane to open the page and change the title to something more descriptive.
  1. Pingback: Remains of the Day: Untitled Document (Macworld) : IPADWEB – Tips and Resources for your IPAD

  2. Matt says:

    Darn. I was really hoping you would get to your goal of being the number one “Untitled Document” on google.

  3. Chris says:

    David:

    What can I say, you rock! My wife purchased your CSS Missing Manual (first edition) for me recently. Of course O’reilly no longer has the first edition tutorial files. Thank you for having them here! Please, keep writing. Your books are easy to follow and I walk away understanding what you teach not just the mechanics of the tutorials.

  4. H Max Marance says:

    Esteemed and Respected Professor Dave: minor point, but for downloading the CSS2e files, there should be some sort of visual feedback to indicate that the files are being or have been downloaded. A pop up message or a download status bar. I kept clicking on the “download files” bar and while it changes color, there’s no indication that a download was in progress, thus I downloaded 5 folders before hitting F11 on the Imac to check to see if anything was on the desktop (where my downloads are delivered.) Really, Dave, save your bandwidth!

  5. Marina says:

    Good article. Unfortunatly didn’t solve my problem. I have had named the title, but the google still list my page as “untitled document”. I spend more then a few hours trying different ways but i can’t come up with anything.